WARNING: The video in this story contains some graphic imagery. Viewer discretion is advised.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Franklin County authorities are charging children with animal cruelty.
The charges were announced Friday morning, and stem from a viral video of a dog being kicked in the face.
The video sparked outrage, garnering more than 12,000 views on social media. Animal rights groups sounded off, and so did the Franklin County Sheriff.
"I was appalled," said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton. "Just appalled."
The suspects look like teens, but officers will not release their names or exact ages because they're minors.
WDRB's Gilbert Corsey met Opal Friday morning. The canine offered not a bark, not a growl, not even a sniff.
"She's pushing 16," said Jeannine Willis, Opal's owner. "Real mild, not a mean bone in her body. Everybody loves her."
It makes it hard for Willis to imagine why anyone would abuse her dog.
"How could someone kick an animal so hard?" she asked. "I mean, she went up in the air and just come down and...just her little legs."
Willis says the attack happened Monday while Opal was on a leash in the front yard for a few minutes to "do her business" -- but it's unclear how she got into the street.
At first Willis didn't even know what happened until a witness knocked at her door.
"She said, 'You haven't heard or anything?' and I said, 'What's going on?' and she showed me the video, and I was like, 'Oh God!'" Willis said.
Sheriff Milton says the children have been receiving threats since the incident, but he warns the public not to retaliate against them.
"I know we just ranked 50th in the nation with some of the worst animal cruelty laws," said Sheriff Melton. "Let's use our passion and harness all the energy we've mustered for this and use it to change laws and make it easier to investigate and prosecute."
Opal was a rescue herself. The miniature Italian Greyhound was pulled from an abusive home.
"Usually you say, 'Outside!' and she pops right up," Willis said.
Willis says the incident even gave Opal a flashback.
"Now I have to literally pick her up," she said. "She just don't want no part of it. I think it really scared her to death, I really do."
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